Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2008-01-20
Submitted By: WWAN
Place: Beehive Basin
State: MT
Country: USA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 1 skier caught, buried, and killed

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Avalanche Death Near Big Sky

By Lucia Stewart, 1-21-08

An avalanche death in Beehive Basin outside of Big Sky, Montana yesterday brings the reminder that our winter playground is not inconsequential under the weight of 4 feet of new snow received in the past five days.

The two skiers were on the ridge between Middle and Beehive basin. They had dug a stability pit on the northeast-facing slope but they had not tested the stability of the southwest-facing aspect where the avalanche occurred.

The two skiers picked a line just a few feet to the left of lines another party had skied just prior. The victim was caught in the 400-500 foot wide, 1-3 feet deep avalanche and swept him 500 vertical feet into a group of trees below. Although he was unburied in 10 minutes with three separate groups witnessing and assisting in the rescue, he had unfortunately died of trauma.

The Big Sky area in the Madison Range has produced significant avalanche activity over the past few days under the weight of the new snow. According to the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center, a skier escaped uninjured on Thursday after being completely buried in an avalanche and on Friday, the Yellowstone Club ski patrol released a large avalanche using explosives.

Beehive Basin is Big Sky?s most popular backcountry area, with people traveling there almost every day of the week. The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center will be investigating the incident today, so look for an update with video and photography tomorrow.

And please remember to be safe out there.